In the early 2000s, banks successfully sued to stop Iowa from limiting their ability to charge ATM fees to non-customers. They also fought off states’ attempts to stop them from charging non-customers to cash checks drawn on the banks’ accounts. In another case, they stopped California from forcing two banks to conduct audits of their own residential mortgages.
What do all these cases have in common? The winning argument in each was that states had no right to impose their laws on federally regulated national banks. And the man who helped make that powerful argument was Keith Noreika — President Trump’s pick to head the federal agency that oversees national banks.
Noreika, a prominent Washington attorney who specializes in financial regulatory law, has made a career out of representing banks as they sought to fight back consumer-friendly state regulations and class-action lawsuits accusing banks of deceptive practices.
He is now the acting head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a position he can serve for 130 days without Senate approval and during which he does not have to abide by stricter ethics rules governing permanent appointees.
As head of the OCC, Noreika will be well-positioned to lighten regulations on banks — without the need for Congress to pass legislation.